Daryl Davis, Emily Russell, United Path discussed on Here & Now
In the adirondacks she says. Have it a lot worse for here. Now i'm emily russell reporting from old forge new york as the nationwide debate over racism continues. We wanted to check in with someone tackling the issue in an unusual way by making friends with members of the ku klux klan. Daryl davis is a black blues musician and author who has spent many years forming. These relationships davis spoke with npr in two thousand seventeen about how he got started with his work after he and a clansman bonded over music in a bar the fact that a clansman and a black person could sit down at the same table. Enjoy the same music. That was the seed planted. So what do you do you plan to. Seed you nourish it many have left the kkk. After talking with daryl davis. They've even given him their white hooded robes and other memorabilia. So far davis has collected more than two hundred items. Today is reflecting on the work ahead during an historic when our country has come up against a pandemic a racial reckoning. An election an insurrection and now a new president trying to pave a united path. Forward daryl davis welcome to hear. Now how nice to have you. Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it well after an historic year when we have seen protests and inflamed debates over racism. How are you feeling about the work. That's ahead of you. I am feeling extremely optimistic. And hopeful looked at the march of last year. Twenty twenty in the wake of the george fluid lynching if you will What what did the power structure see. Then they saw an ocean of black people and an ocean of white people marching together. We know we've never had that. That large a collective voice americans white black whatever working together for the common cause and that my friend is the definition of the united states. You say the pages of progress are turning faster. How would you gauge the state of white supremacy in america right now. Is it shifting in two thousand twenty one What's happening is this. They are becoming very fearful. So what people indicate k. and neo nazis. Alright what they tell me is daryl. I don't want my grandkids to be brown. They call it the browning of america or white genocide through miscegenation in other words race mixing and they're very concerned about their identity being erased. So this is why. You're seeing all these upticks in recruitment for white supremacist. Groups always lone wolves the insurrection at the capitol. What did you see that predominantly mostly white people. These are the ones who were fearing that. Their identity is being erased and a false perception. Nobody's going to take over and he people out of this country we all are americans. We need to learn how to get along with each other. And so i wonder what you were thinking on january six the day the mob stormed the us capitol because you you base your approach on listening and understanding. So how did you make sense of what happened that day. So i saw it coming. I was not in the least bit surprised and This know when you see somebody walking through the capital carrying the confederate battle flag and and somebody else wearing a camp auschwitz. T. shirt you don't have to ask what they're what they're doing. They're what they want. You know what they want. Mr davis you have memorabilia from white supremacists from k. k. k. members. You have their white hooded robes. Why do you keep these things. Why are they in your house. What do they represent to you. They represent that those people no longer believe what those items stood for and people always ask. Why do you have that stuff. Want you burn it well. No i'm not going to burn it. It is a part of american history. Racism the kkk is just as american as baseball apple pie and chevrolet as a part of our history. We all have the good the bad the ugly and the shameful and our history and does not need to be destroyed. We need to learn from it. So i have a five. Oh one c. three. I plan to open a museum one day. And that's where stuff will be Right now i'm learning a lot of it to the orlando holocaust center for an exhibition. They are putting on In the fall if spent years Going around the country talking to clansmen in person to form relationships To form friendships. And i'm curious how the pandemic has changed your efforts. I mean were you trying to talk to. Kkk members on on zoom. How did that work. Absolutely some of them avenue have soon and Yeah i've talked to a lot of them zone or through email or phone telephone. I've i've met with some you know recently. You know in in person. You know Online is a tool is a double edged sword and dependent on how you use it It can be can be used for the good or the bad and certainly we know we're seeing we're seeing both. We've seen a lot of cancel culture online. We're seeing a lot of recruitment online into a lot of these groups extremist groups etc. But it's also a means of connecting in a one another and depending upon how you use it you have ongoing conversations and relationships with white supremacists with kkk members. Do you ever worry about your safety. Yes and it's been imperilled from time to time. Fortunately for me those times have been few and far between but you know that's a risk You know you have to take it. Goes with the territory. Somebody who is going to go so far as to join an organization that.